HO HO HO! Santas graded

Who is the Father Christmas with the best belly, beard and laugh? Weekend Post hit the malls and put them to the test

Number 1. Greenacres Santa Hugh Davidson with Zemixola Fiti, 5, and Isobella van der Merwe
Number 1. Greenacres Santa Hugh Davidson with Zemixola Fiti, 5, and Isobella van der Merwe
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

’Tis the season to be jolly and Father Christmases across the Bay are taking centre stage at shopping malls, spreading Christmas cheer and keeping the fire of imagination burning in the hearts of children of all ages.

But just who is the Father Christmas with the best belly, beard and laugh?

To find out, a Weekend Post team made its way to a number of malls to put them to the test.

All the father Christmases have upped their game in their attempt to be the most convincing Santa, along with sporting the best sleighs and jingle bells.

Winning 2018’s competition was Greenacres Shopping Centre’s Hugh Davidson, 66, who had a beard, outfit and a “ho ho ho” that immediately conjured up a feeling of child-like delight.

This is the second year in a row that Davidson has taken the title, with 2018’s look improved upon thanks to a hard look at how he rated against 2017’s contestants.

He said when he looked at 2017’s lineup of “men in red”, he realised he needed something “bespoke” to secure another win.

“Compared with the other Father Christmases, my belt buckle was one of the worst, so I decided to have my belt handmade,” he said.

Davidson not only poses as Santa Claus during Christmas time, but also raises funds for cancer awareness.

In 2018, he started his Santa for Cancer fundraiser at a Big Walk in November and has raised R10,000 so far.

However, with all his charm and energy, his beard still managed to scare one little girl, who by far preferred her drywors stick to Davidson's “ho, ho, ho” and Christmas bell.

A soft-hearted Santa, and this year’s first runner-up, Andy Endermann, 74, at Walmer Park Shopping Centre, said he hit a bit of a glitch on Monday when six young children cried non-stop.

“I had six children, one after the other, and they were all crying. It hurt me so much that I wanted to give up being Santa – thinking what did I do to make them cry so much?” Endermann said.

However, his love for the little ones got him out of bed and back on his Santa throne, listening to tall orders for Xboxes and other presents.

“One child even asked me for a reindeer. And I thought ‘yhooo’ – but I told her I’ll phone the elves tonight so they can pack an extra one for PE.”

Stuart Mandy, 71, who put on his suit for the second year in a row, said the heat was the only unbearable part of the gig.

“I can’t take this heat anymore. [Maybe] they can move the chair to the other side by the shade next year, because the babies faces get all screwed up in the sun, ruining the picture,” Mandy said.

Mandy, who has been working with children most of his life as a scout master in Cape Town, said he had availed himself in 2017 to be the Baywest Santa Claus.

“I love kids, and that’s why I work with kids. In six months’ time, I’m going to be a greatgrandfather,” he said.

On the other side of the Bay, the sun had caught up with Vuyisile Mputshe, 63, at the Kenako Mall as he felt the heat under his synthetic beard and wig – but Mrs Claus, Nelisa Socenywa, 44, was on top of her game, winning children’s hearts as she pranced around the mall.

“It’s my first time [posing] as Mother Christmas and I’m having fun,” Socenywa said.

Kenako was the only mall with a full-house display with Father and Mother Christmas accompanied by two elves.

Too fresh to flop and the youngest of the lot was Jan Stander, 50, at Pier 14.

A bald-headed Stander said it was his first time posing as Father Christmas and he was enjoying every moment.

The most fascinating thing about the Santa booth pop-up, is the effort parents put into dressing up their babies.

A queue of “first Christmas” babies filled most of the malls, with the littlies anxiously waiting to have a go at Santa’s beard.